Thursday, August 20, 2009

US Healthcare debate: lies, damned lies and the NHS

When massive health insurers have millions of dollars of profit at stake, it is no surprise that there is a huge amount of misinformation being deliberately spread about nationalised health care in the US at the moment. In particular, the UK's National Health Service (NHS) has been grossly misrepresented. It has its problems, of course, but overall, we have found it to be an excellent service and it has been of great help during my ongoing checkups after cancer and so far through the first half of Jessica's pregnancy. We have never had to wait long, we have received quality care on top equipment and we have not paid a penny despite not even being UK citizens. Indeed, the NHS was no small part in our decision to study in the UK rather than the US. I have also written in the past about my experiences of Australia's Medicare system, which were also positive. I am no health care expert, but it doesn't take much expertise to see through some of the deliberate lies and ensuing confusion that seem to be increasingly mudding the waters of public debate in the US.

As I understand them, the proposed health care reforms in the States are not even aiming at a system as nationalised as the NHS here in the UK. Here is a campaign allowing those who have benefited from the UK's NHS to tell it like it is in an open letter to US Congress and people that simply says this:

We urge you to ignore the myths about health systems in our country and others that are being pushed by US healthcare companies. Our national system of public healthcare works very well and enjoys extremely high levels of public support. We wish you a healthy and honest debate about healthcare in the US.
Now of course there is much debate about the use of public money, and rightly so, but debate isn't helped by smear campaigns spreading lies about what nationalised health care systems are like. If you have benefited from the NHS and would like to say so, then you can do so here.

That said, I do still wonder whether our societies (Australia, UK and US) all spend too much on acute health care, especially in comparison to the relatively little spent on preventative health care. We expect to be able to live however we like and then have the most expensive medical aid help us get out of the holes we have gleefully and collectively jumped into.

UPDATE: I don't think I'm alone on this.


Donna said...

I was interested to compare the CNN and BBC coverage of the US health care reform. In my observation CNN tended to broadcast the hype, whatever was being said in the US. BBC was more critical and broadcast the facts when they disagreed with the hype.

I wonder how many people in the US watch BBC world? :-)